Curtis Jones missed out on his big chance against Atalanta. The 19-year-old played but just wasn’t himself at Anfield on Wednesday.
Curtis Jones didn’t steal the show against Atalanta – but no one did. It was an awful performance from Liverpool but one we don’t actually begrudge them.
This game came just three days after the Leicester City win, after all. An injury-stricken squad had to somehow deal with both while knowing they had a game with Brighton less than 36 hours later.
This was particularly an issue in midfield. Jurgen Klopp lost Naby Keita at the weekend, with the Guinean joining Jordan Henderson, Thiago and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the injury list.
And with Fabinho now a full-time defender, that left James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum and Jones.
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All three started against Atalanta after playing the full 90 minutes against Leicester. It’s madness, really, and the terrible scheduling robbed Jones of a great opportunity.
This game would have been a great opportunity for Jones to cement himself as a first-team player. This was back-to-back starts, after all, for a player who struggles for them.
In fact, Jones’s only real opportunities for consistent games come when the stars are out injured. But the fact he needed to start twice in three days – likely three in six – robbed him of a good performance.
How is he supposed to deliver under that workload? Liverpool played at 7:30pm on Sunday, which isn’t even a usual kick-off time. The game shifted later for TV commitments after originally being scheduled for Saturday.
And as a result, Jones lost out on proper rest. He didn’t get much of a break before Wednesday’s game and he gets even less ahead of Brighton.
For a 19-year-old hoping to earn a proper role in the squad, that’s terrible. So it’s no surprise that we didn’t see anything like the Jones we saw in Bergamo.
He was tired, knowing he must preserve some energy for the weekend. By which time, players could be back and his chance is gone.